Americas

Bush signs $12bn energy bill

President Bush signed into law the United States’ first national energy policy for over a decade, stating: “We need to conserve more energy; we need to produce more energy. We need to diversify our energy supply, and we need to modernize our energy delivery.”

The $12bn bill aims to lower emissions through the development of renewable energies and the results of a new $1.8bn clean coal programme. Bush also promised that new nuclear power plant capacity would be under construction by the end of the decade.

To ease fears over energy security, utility operators will now be bound by federal grid standards and Bush said the country would work to become less dependent on foreign sources for its energy needs.

The bill met with general approval across a wide range of sectors within the industry.

Build starts on first H-System in America

Construction has started on Calpine Corporation’s 800 MW Inland Empire energy centre, the first power plant on the North America continent to use GE Energy’s H-System gas turbine technology.

GE will finance, own and operate the facility for an extended period, before selling it to Calpine. Until that time, Calpine is responsible for managing plant construction, fuel requirements and marketing the energy output.

GE recently announced it had uprated its most advanced gas turbine and the site in Riverside County, California, will be the first in the world to feel the full benefit when two 107H Systems begin generating in 2008.

Mexico to add 835 MW of hydro and wind capacity

The Russian company, Power Machines, and the Spanish firm, Gamesa Eolica have been contracted to supply hydro and wind technology that will add an extra 835 MW to Mexico’s national grid.

In its first contract in the country for eight years, Power Machines will provide two 375 MW power units for the $750m El Cajon hydro power plant. The units are the most powerful hydro generators the company has ever supplied for foreign use.

After rejecting all previous tenders for the La Venta II wind project, the state power company CFE awarded Spanish renewable energy company Gamesa Eolica an $111m contract to complete construction of the 85 MW wind farm by the start of November 2006.

MHI awarded contract as Chilean market heats up

Spurred by recent economic growth, Endesa Chile has contracted Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to construct a combined cycle gas turbine power plant that can be fuelled by both natural gas and oil.

GDP growth in Chile reached 6.1 per cent in 2004 and is expected to rise slightly further to 6.2 per cent in 2005. This economic growth has led to increased electricity demand, leaving many of the country’s regions exposed to electricity shortages.

The 400 MW power plant is to be built 130 km northwest of the capital Santiago, one of the most vulnerable regions. Mitsubishi will supply a M701F gas turbine, a steam turbine, a heat recovery steam generator and two generators.

Nuclear plant given 25-year life extension

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) is to extend the life of a Canadian nuclear power plant after the local authority declared that the $1.4bn cost represented the best balance of cost and risk for its ratepayers.

The plant in New Brunswick was due to close in 2008, but now refurbishment work will extend its life by 25 years. AECL will replace the 22-year-old tubes at the centre of the reactor with new ones.

The nuclear plant currently provides 30 per cent of New Brunswick’s energy needs.

AECL’s chief executive said the company was expecting a dramatic increase in demand for its nuclear refurbishment services as plants installed in the 1980s near 25 years of age.

GE to develop hybrid fuel cell

The US Department of Energy has charged GE Energy with the task of developing a highly efficient, multi-megawatt solid oxide fuel cell based power system that operates on coal.

The ten-year three-phase agreement is worth $83m to GE. Its Hybrid Power Generation Systems division will now work to create a 100 MW integrated gasification fuel cell system that is able to achieve greater than 50 per cent total system efficiency from coal. A typical conventional pulverized coal fired power plant operates at about 35 per cent efficiency.


News digest

Canada: AMEC is to provide consultancy services for a project that would be the first privately built power line to cross the border between the US and Canada.

Canada: Ontario Power Generation has opted to enhance the performance of its ten existing nuclear units rather than refurbish two of the units at its Pickering A power plant.

Canada: The largest merchant wind farm in Canada is to be built in Alberta. The 70.5 MW project will be powered by 47 of GE Energy’s 1.5 MW wind turbines.

Chile: Chile has become the fourth Latin American nation to join the international Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership.

Chile: Globeleq has sold its 17 per cent stake in the 379 MW San Isidro gas fired power plant to the plant’s operator, Endesa Chile.

Mexico: Iberdrola SA plans to invest a further $1bn in Mexico up to 2010, bringing its total investment in the country between 1999 and 2010 to $3.8bn.

Mexico: The government is to use 1.5 MW of gas fuelled Capstone micro turbines to power three of its office buildings in the country’s capital, Mexico City.

Peru: BTEC Turbines has been awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contract for a power plant project approximately 16 km from the northwest city of Tumbes.

Uruguay: The state power company UTE has contracted GE Energy to build two 100 MW gas fired power plants in the capital city, Montevideo, for $80m.

USA: A 300 MW power facility in Florida has been successfully converted to use the latest clean coal technology. The demonstration project took eight years to finish and cost $320m.

USA: Florida Power and Light Company has contracted Washington Group and Framatome to replace the steam generators at unit 2 of its St. Lucie nuclear power plant.

USA: Southern California Edison and Stirling Energy Systems are investigating the possibility of creating the world’s largest solar energy facility. Eventually, a 20 000 solar dish array could produce 850 MW.

USA: The proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility will protect public health for 1 million years, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

USA: The week ending 23 July saw the US electricity industry set a new record for power supply, having provided 95 259 GWh. The new record eclipsed the previous high, set in 2002, by over 5 per cent.

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